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Part of what makes Ida Crown so special is the inclusion of special needs students in the classroom, programming and community. Keshet is a program that gives students with special needs the opportunity to have an education, enjoy extracurricular activities and attend sleepaway camp in the summer. Most Keshet parents would never have dreamed that their children would be able to do so many “normal things.” Barbra Kent, a Keshet parent to Bradley Kent, explains that “Keshet gave Bradley so many amazing opportunities that never would have been possible. He is able to fully participate in Jewish life, including celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, joining a special needs choir, and playing piano at several Keshet benefits. Above all, Bradley has friends and a supportive, loving community.”

Ida Crown’s Peer Buddy Program is a way for Keshet and Ida Crown students to build meaningful and life-changing relationships. Not only do these friendships help Ida Crown students become more open-minded to differences, it also advances Keshet students’ abilities to incorporate the lessons they learn in class into real-life friendships. This school year, Ida Crown is welcoming two new female Keshet students into its community. Keshet stresses that EVERYONE is welcome. Their programming is not just at lunch time: ICJA students are welcome any time of the day to volunteer and their work is greatly appreciated. Keshet has an open door policy program. You do not need to be signed up for anything; you could pop your head in and say hello just because you can make a difference. Opportunities that Ida Crown and Keshet have incorporated into the Peer Buddy program include caring for the greenhouse with your buddy, cooking, yoga and much more.

Keshet is looking for new peers for the peer buddy program, field trips, and outside-of-class activities. They are also looking for male or female heads for the Peer Buddy Program from each grade to get the word out to other students who may not know about Keshet and their message. If you’re interested in any of these tasks, please contact Lori Zisook (contact information below) or one of the Keshet teachers. One of the best things about Keshet is that you can ask to join and be welcomed with open arms.

This article by Mia Herman was posted with permission by The Crown Prints newspaper staff. 

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